The origins of tapestry remain mysterious. According to the legend, the Saracens, after they were defeated in the Battle of Poitiers in 732, would have settled weaving looms on the banks of the Creuse river. The 15th century witnessed the apparition of mille-fleurs: the backgrounds of tapestries were laden with flower patterns – the most famous example being The Lady and the Unicorn. By the 16th century, tapestries were being woven in Aubusson, Felletin, Bellegarde… They were intended as decoration and drew their inspiration from religious and mythological themes, depicting verdure sceneries, animals and characters.
In the 17th century, tapestry enjoyed a remarkable expansion and in 1665, Aubusson was given the status of Royal Manufacture by Colbert. After the French Revolution, the workshops of the county of the Marche lost their status of State Manufactures. Upholstery and machine-made carpets replaced wall tapestry, which was no longer appreciated. The newly made aubusson tapestries are mostly hand-woven in China.
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